'Agoraphobic' claims £50k benefits while working as tour guide

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A woman who claimed £50,000 benefits after saying she was agoraphobic was actually flying around the world as a travel writer and tour guide.

The Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court this week heard how Tracy Johnson, 52, said she needed welfare support for her fear of open spaces, but was actually globetrotting in some of the world's top holiday hotspots.

Ms Johnson went on trial accused of fraudulently claiming disability allowances while running her own tour guide agency in Argentina.

According to the Metro, prosecutor Joanna James said: "Tracy Johnson was living the life that honest, decent, hard-working taxpayers could only dream of.

"She said she was unable to live on a day-to-day basis because she was agoraphobic, suffered depression, hallucinations, anxiety, blackouts and post-traumatic stress disorder."

Some of her jaunts reportedly included shopping trips in New York and Madrid.

Ms James said she "used taxpayers' money" to have a four-month trip around India in 2012. When police searched her home luggage tags were still on her suitcases.

The court heard how Ms Johnson was arrested after an anonymous tip-off about her alleged world travels.

According to the Daily Telegraph, she added: "The authorities tried to contact her but it seems she was out of the country. She was arrested when she tried to renew her benefits claim last June on her return from India."

Johnson is accused of fraud, dishonestly making a false representation and dishonestly failing to notify a change in circumstances between January, 2008 and July, 2012.

She is representing herself and denies 13 charges.

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